An interview with “Where'd You Go, Bernadette?” director Richard Linklater is forthcoming.
The embargo has lifted for the latest Linklater and, well, it doesn’t look too good . A 50 on Metacritic and a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. Linklater hasn’t had many missfires over the years. 1998’s “The Newton Boys,” and 2005’s “Bad News Bears” definitely come to mind when it comes to inessential Linklater.
I wrote this right after leaving the “Where'd You Go, Bernadette?” screening last week:
The film, adapted from Maria Semple’s popular YA novel of the same name, concerns Bernadette (Cate Blanchett) a brilliant, middle-aged ex-architect with a beautiful home, a loving husband (Billy Crudup) and a brilliant teenage daughter (Emma Nelson). And yet, with all the good graces Bernadette has gotten in life, she is going through an existential mid-life crisis. The crux of the film has to do with how Bernadette copes with her anxiety, even as the people around her, including a clueless husband, a nosy neighbor (Kristen Wiig) and a detrimental Psychiatrist (Judy Greer), try to help. After her clueless husband decides to stage an intervention, Bernadette decides to disappear, going to Antarctica which consequentially has her family going to look for her.
“Where'd You Go, Bernadette?”is filled with unearned sentimentality, which is all-too-rare in the Linklater cannon, hell even Bernadette herself would not approve of it. You see, that’s because Bernadette is a woman that really hates conventional mindsets and people who just like to go along — middle-class normality isn’t for her and, yet, she’s settled down on it, like the person she always said she’d never become.
Blanchett’s nervous, neurotic and irritated-filled performance keeps things watchable and, dare I say it, even mildly transporting. The 50-year-old actress once again proves just how great of a talent she is, carrying this slight movie on her scrawny shoulders for close to two hours and, almost, succeeding at turning the incongruous screenplay into something deeper and more resonant. In fact, without Blanchett the film would have sunk much deeper into the antarctic ocean, especially when Its screenplay (written by five people!) decides to venture to Antarctica for a predictably moral lesson.